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Palm m500 Series Hardcase Review
The Palm m500 Series aluminum hard case is a lightweight anodized aluminum case designed for the m500 series which includes a new stylus designed specifically to be easily removed from the case.
Anyway, the specific dimensions of the case are:
I was previously unhappy with the "slim" case that I bought for my m505 (I'm referring to the second series of the case, with the SD slots behind the Palm and little bumpers on the front to keep the buttons from being depressed when closed) because said bumpers would hit either my Date Book or Note Pad buttons, depending on the situation. I got a little sick of opening my Palm case and finding it already turned on.
The color is a titanium-hued silver, lighter than the buttons on my m505, but it complements them nicely. On the front is a small Palm Inc. logo encased in a bubble-domed piece of clear rubber. It looked like glass or plastic until I dug in with my fingernail and felt it yield. This kind of abuse doesn't leave a mark on it, though I'm concerned about what my car keys may do while this case is in my purse. But, since it's so tiny, I'm not too worried.
I should take this time to mention that the case itself is made of molded, anodized aluminum. This is highly scratch resistant, and the slightly textured finish hides smudges and fingerprints quite well. And because each half of the case is molded out of a single piece of aluminum there are no sharp edges or badly met corners.
Inside, the case has a nice blue-gray textured plastic lining, with a slot for business cards facing the screen and an understated Palm Inc. logo on the back half. It's molded smoothly and hugs the Palm in a friendly manner, but not too tight. More about that later. I'm quite pleased with the overall look and feel of this case.
Here's a big fat thumbs down, though: there's no reset pin in the stylus. However, I've heard that the LandWare Floating*Point stylus tip makes a decent reset pin, and that the hook of this stylus can be screwed onto the end of the Landware stylus and successfully integrated into the Palm and case. I'm thinking of maybe trying the same thing with the Chameleon stylus because the reset pin is located under the tip of the stylus, not at the top. Those of us who have gobs of 3rd party software are good friends with our respective reset pins, so this is kind of a bummer. Other PIC regulars have suggested keeping a paper clip in the card slot.
Here's the general breakdown of opening and closing: to open the case, you push inwards and down (simultaneously) at the little arrow painted on the lower half of the case. This pops the top half up and out over the edge a bit, then you can open it. To close, you simply repeat the opening process in reverse. First place the top half over the Palm, with it pulled slightly over the bottom half, roughly a millimeter or two. Press down and inwards simultaneously on the top half and it will click closed.
I should note that this process is significantly simpler when there's actually a handheld in the case. Without one, both halves slide around incessantly, with the Palm tucked away inside the two halves move in a much more subtle manner.
Both the stylus and the rail attaching the handheld have a nice, tight deathgrip on the Palm. Well, I guess the Palm has the deathgrip, but you get my meaning. I like this, since over time my leather slim case rail has loosened up a bit, and the Palm has fallen out of it 3 times now. Likewise, my rotation of extra Palm styli have all become loose in the slot, and occasionally fly out when I pull my Palm out of my pocket or purse. It makes for some good-looking acrobatics, but it's a pain to go looking for the stylus once it lands. I'm not worried about either of these things happening for some time (if ever) with this case.
Likewise, when the case is closed, it's closed quite well. I have no fears of this opening unexpectedly while in my purse or pocket. On the other hand, I've dropped the empty case on the floor twice and it opened both times, because it landed on its edge. I don't plan on trying this with my Palm inside, but this should be read as a warning that this case may not protect your Palm so well in the event of a fall.
With that said, I should also add that I've dropped my m505 on my hardwood floors 3 times (thanks to the aforementioned slippery rail in my leather case) from roughly a height of 3 feet with no problem.
Back to the rail. It doesn't fold around more than 90 degrees. This means that while I could fold my leather case in half and off to the side to put my Palm in the cradle, it's not so easy with this case. Currently I have my cradle set at the edge of my desk, and the case can hang off the edge while the handheld charges and syncs.
The included stylus has a hard black plastic tip and writes quite smoothly on the screen. Since I use screen protectors, I can't really give a scratch-factor for it, but I'm guessing it's pretty low.
I had heard complaints about the rubberized plastic lining of the case (especially where the card slot is) being poorly manufactured, with excess glue and badly aligned edges. Mine has no signs of this. The card slot is snug and stylish, and as I mentioned before I've crammed four business cards in there comfortably and I can still close the case. If you're thinking about sticking an SD card or two in there, it may work. I put an SD card and an MMC card on either side of the main slot, under the plastic, over my business cards. They fit, and with a little extra pressure I could close the case, but thoughts of scratched screens and "oilslicks" from the extra localized pressure convinced me to take them out.
Speaking of snug and flexible, I'd like to take this time to talk about the hinge. The case is double-hinged, meaning that each half of the cover is hinged on a single piece of aluminum, just over a half inch wide. So, the front half can flap around freely, as can the back half. This is how Palm got this case to fold around 360 degrees. This is what I initially found annoying during the closing of the case, getting the hinge perpendicular to both halves of the case and getting everything to line up correctly. I eventually got the hang of it, so it's no longer a problem for me.
Slight tangent rooted in opening and closing the case: I've noticed something strange Palm Inc. did with the m500 series: clicking. It seems like everything makes a horrible click noise when being engaged or disengaged or opened or closed that brings to mind visions of cracked screens, smashed circuitry, and overall just plain dead palms. When I click this case closed or click it open, I wince a little. Much the way I winced when pulling my m505 off of the cradle the first few (dozen) times.
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